"One" Is The Loneliest Number

  • Yes, “one” is the loneliest number.

    The number “one” tells us the most about Andrew Wiggins so far.

    The number “one” was demonstrative of Andrew Wiggins’ greatest weakness this past season at Kansas.

    The number “one” exhibits a huge flaw in Andrew Wiggins’ game at the moment.

    The number “one” defines Andrew Wiggins’ right now. Andrew Wiggins had “one” assist in four summer league basketball games. “One”, as in the number “one.” Not two – “one.” When you have one assist in four games, that’s a .25 average. Easy math.

    It is puzzling to me how you can be on the court for so many minutes, with the ball in your hands so many times, and have “one” assist. Unless you are consciously trying not to pass, or you are selfish, or you simply don’t know how to pass.

    We debate the trade possibilities and some like @DoubleDD would not trade “future Jordan, Bird, Magic, Jordan, or Duncan.”

    Heck, Kevin Love is a 4.5 assist per game guy. Lebron James, always around 7 assists per game. Heck, the allegedly selfish Kobe Bryant around 6 the last couple of seasons and around 5 most of his career as was Michael Jordan. Tim Duncan a pedestrian 3.1. Larry Bird over 6 per game. The alleged most selfish player, Carmelo Anthony – of black hole proportions – is around 3 per game in his career.

    When you compare Anthony and James, the assist difference is the biggest contrast between the two. It’s perhaps why James is considered to be a much better player than James. It is actually, in fact, what makes James the much better player.

    At KU, Wiggins averaged 1.5 assists per game. We saw over and over where Wiggins would fail to pass, even when three guys collapsed around him. His most famous move (as Keegan correctly pointed out) was to drive, lose the ball, and get bailed out on a foul call. Wiggins was just a freshman. He needed and deserved time to work on his game at Kansas. The microscope and the OAD drama unfairly causes more scrutiny of his game.

    So some may question whether Wiggins should be traded. Or whether he’s a future superstar on the James, Jordan, Bird or Bryant level. We should first consider whether Wiggins will learn to pass the ball. This element seems to be his most significant challenge.

    I looked at the progress of the superstars. Bryant averaged just 1.3 assists per game his first season, climbing to 6.3 by his fourth season. Jordan average 1.8 assists per game in college, but had 5.9 his first NBA season. Bird had 4.5 his first NBA season.

    With Wiggins, this will be a stat I pay attention to. If he’s going to be a superstar, he’s got to score. He has to look to shoot. He has to be aggressive. But I’d also suggest that effectively passing the ball fits into that equation. I’ll be interested in the progress of that stat, and I’m interested in whether others think this stat means anything in the scheme of NBA superstardom.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Well said.

    I remember the first high school game I watched on TV. Everyone was talking about this phenom named Lebron. I watched 15 minutes expecting to see a ball hog man amongst boys. What I saw was a man amongst boys w amazing vision and killer passing.

    Bird saw the floor and passed incredibly well. Lebron sees the floor and typically makes the right decision. Many have said he passes too much at the end of games…but I think it’s so engrained in him to make the “right” decision that he has a hard time taking a contested shot when he knows someone is wide open.

    I’m curious, can court vision be learned?

  • Banned

    Love the post highelitemajor it is a very valid, valid point. I think Wiggs will struggle with assists in Minnesota, as he really won’t have anybody to pass the ball to, but we shall see.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Using just one statistic to state that “exhibits a huge flaw in Andrew Wiggins’ game” after 4 Summer League games is misleading and premature.

    Fist, we don’t know what he was told to do by the coaching staff. Maybe he was told not to pass and tale the shot or drive to the basket. Also, he was playing the three, a position in which the player is more of a slasher and not necessarily an assist man. Yes, I am sure you can argue that many player that played the three had lots of assist, but usually, the guards take the lion’s share of assist in a team. In many ways, the four and five are better positioned to have more assist particularly if they play a variation of the hi-lo, where the ball goes inside, the defense sags and maybe double teams the star player and he can make the pass to the open player on the outside; Olajuwon was great at this is so is Love. BTW, Wilt led the League in assists one year.

    Second, he was playing with group of players he does not know, he had not practiced with them long enough to know where they would be at any time so he could make the pass, and if you watched the last game, you saw that Houston played Hack-the-Wigg with him and every time he caught the ball he was fouled and went to the line 20 times. Also, we don’t really know how many times he had the ball in a position to make a pass/assist and did not make or missed the pass.

    By the way, he led the team in scoring, free throws, steals and blocked shots…and highlight dunks…again, doing what he does best.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    With the caveat that the trade talk appears all rooted in Cleveland apparently having moved into a Nike schema with the signing of Lebron, and the presence of Irving, and adidas seeing zero marketing benefit to piggy backing Wigs with Nike Lebron and Nike Irving, I am sooooooo glad you seized on this assist issue with Andrew, because I harped on this all last season to the point of annoying folks.

    I finally resorted to a metaphor/code to save peoples’ feeling’s. I talked about it as: high ceiling, low foundation.

    I realized no one wanted to say anything bad about Wigs, because: a) he was the most glamorous OAD added to our team ever, and b) everyone wanted to see him go UNO in the draft-o.

    But assists are just one part of his low foundation and, frankly, the easiest part to fix, if the driver feeding into the assist issue were fixed.

    Wigs real killer is his one handed-ness and it is partly responsible for his low assist ratio. He is as one handed as Brandon Rush was, but without Brandon’s superb outside touch. I never saw Wigs dribble with his weak hand more than 3 dribbles, and mostly never more than two.

    Wigs’ defenders always knew where the pass was coming from. They were always sitting on his good hand and daring him to bounce and hook pass with the weak hand, not just daring him to dribble with it. Wigs’ athleticism is so off the charts that even with a college defender sitting on his good hand, he can STILL get around most of them with his good hand after a weak fake, or he can go way wide with his weak hand and high dribble 2-3 times and go up. But in the NBA, the guys will probably be able to sit on his good hand and keep him from ever getting around with his good hand, and with the man/zone hybrid played in the L, the move wide with his weak hand will not be open at all.

    As a result, Wigs like Brandon cannot really play championship level ball at the 2 spot in the NBA out of the box, and unlike Brandon, Wigs lacks the big-boned frame to play the 3 as physically as NBA 3s that cannot be dangerous from trey have to play.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, Wigs is a project.

    What he has–athleticism-- is a 10 out of 10.

    What he lacks–ambidexterity, assistance, a trey, plus muscle–he probably scores 3-5 on ambidexterity, 1 on assistance 1, 5-6 on trey, and 5-6 on muscle.

    His body will mature into a muscular and awesome mature man’s physique probably within two years, maybe five at the outside. So that is just a waiting game.

    But the one-handedness, the related assists issue, and the trey are issues one just can never say for certain what level of proficiency a player can eventually attain. Jordan was mediocre as a trey shooter for quite a long time, then the second most driven player in the history of the game behind Bill Russell, willed himself to three years of greatness as a trey shooter in the NBA. But then as his legs aged, and the we are and tear built up, and perhaps as his teammates abilities altered, he returned to being a merely satisfactory trey gunner.

    It may sound trite to say this, but whatever happens with Wigs career is going to be hugely dependent on how driven he is to become one of the great ones. There is no doubt that he has the equipment at an early age to set his sights on this quest. But many have had a lot of equipment. Few have the furious and relentless drive to keep getting better for as long as Wigs’ will have to in order to join the great ones.

    It might have been much better for Wigs to have gone 2-5 in the draft; then he might have entered with a chip, as slayr likes to say.

    Now he has to enter the NBA and will not develop a chip for a season, or two, after getting the hell beaten out of him physically by grown men–all of whom have a chip, or they wouldn’t even last in the NBA.

    Having said all of the above, what makes Wigs particularly hard to assess is that IMHO, Wigs appeared to play 1/2 to 2/3 capacity last season at KU with a few exceptions, so assessing him is akin to assessing a very good gambler across the table in a game of seven card stud, or whatever they call it, where five cards are up and two are down. You can evaluate the five up cards, as I have done above, but you cannot evaluate the two hole cards.

    I believe Wigs is a LOT better than what we saw last season.

    But I also believe he has the basic flaws in his game that I have enumerated above; this is a strange combination of strengths and weaknesses he possesses.

    The greatest of the great players, i.e., the guys that do the most BOTH as individuals AND win the most championships have no acute holes in their games.

    For example, Bill Russell was not as talented overall as Wilt Chamberlain, but Bill had no acute holes in his game as a center at that time in the NBA. Wilt was stronger in every way, but he had the acute hole of 50% free throw shooting. Underneath all the talk about who had the better teammates and coaching, which can be debated, remains Wilt’s achilles heel–free throw shooting.

    If Andrew can fix his holes, and operate with competitive greatness, as Wooden labeled it, then there seems little doubt he could be THE great one of this decade of players entering the game.

    Not if not.

    Go, Andrew, go.

  • @HighEliteMajor In Love’s rookie season he only averaged 1 assist and had 30 some games where he had no assists. How on earth did he play all of those minutes without an assists? He averaged 25 minutes a game times 30 some games and played 750 some odd minutes without an assist! He should have been ran out of the NBA right? Its a good thing you weren’t watching his assists HEM or he might have never made it in the NBA. Just a bit of fun HEM not trying to ruffel anyones fethers.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    "It is puzzling to me how you can be on the court for so many minutes, with the ball in your hands so many times, and have “one” assist. "

    I agree. But it could be for a few reasons. Wigs teammates may not be trying to pop open when Andrew has the ball because they all know he is supposed to shoot it. Or… they were fighting to get open and Andrew didn’t go for the assist.

    Either way… if Andrew wants to show he is a team player, he’ll find ways to improve his assists.

  • It is actually, in fact, what makes James the much better player.

    @HighEliteMajor I would argue defense is the bigger difference in what makes James that much better. Minor disagreement.

    I would agree that Wiggins needs to improve his assist numbers. His time at KU clearly showed that. I wouldn’t put too much stock in the low numbers in the summer league. You’re playing with a bunch of rookies and second year players, all looking to showcase their skills. It’s not exactly the same as having tunnel vision while a wide-open LeBron is cutting to the rim.

    What will be interesting to me is if he does in fact get dealt to Minnesota…who is he supposed to be passing to? Is there anybody on that team left (once Love is gone) that would merit giving up the ball? If he winds up there, I wouldn’t expect his assists to jump up by that much.

  • @JayHawkFanToo and @Statmachine - I trust both of you noted my relatively clear comparison to Bryant, who had low assist numbers to start and progressed upward. And pointing out what Jordan did in college. My post was in no way suggesting that Wiggins couldn’t do that. It was to point out that assist numbers are an important element of a superstar.

    As to @JayHawkFanToo and your “what ifs”, – what if Wiggins was under the influence of the mob, and his contact told him that his boss was betting the under on the Wiggins assist line held by the local bartender running book?

    Right, coach Self told Andrew – “Andrew, when you drive, I want you to ignore your teammates. Focus solely on the rim. If you can pass and give your teammate an easy basket, you should ignore that.” Your premise (what if) is just silly.

    I watched Wiggins the entire season. I posted regularly about his failure to even look at teammates when he drove to the basket, I periodically cited examples, and even posted a few pictures as examples. You are correct, we “don’t really know how many times he had the ball in a position to make a pass/assist.” Right, who has the exact number. That’s, respectfully, a useless argument. It says nothing. It doesn’t refute anything. And pointing out what he led the team in (statistically) means nothing either. We’re talking about a guy who is the supposedly the next superstar. The complete player.

    And using one stat is appropriate to demonstrate a flaw. If Billy Butler as a DH can’t hit home runs, that’s a flaw. If a post player has low rebounds, that a flaw. If a shooting guards shoots 25% from three, that’s a flaw. Wiggins low assist rate is indicative of a significant weakness in his game “at the moment” (as I pointed out – now, perhaps not in the future). And my sole point was that it was an item to watch if he is to ascend to superstardom.

  • @VailHawk I do think court vision can be learned but there are those that are blessed with that skill. Some may improve, but like anything else, each person has their ceiling. One reason why I think Wiggins is a horrible passer right now is that he’s never had to do it. I think when he has to do it, he will get better. The NBA is a much different game.

    @jaybate - great analysis there. “Wigs is a project” – He is. I’m reserving my opinion on whether he even falls in the “could” be great category until he really plays some games. I’m not entirely sure of that yet. Personally, he’s not my type of player. He’s soft, finesse, doesn’t dive for balls, and can’t/won’t pass. He does play defense. That’s a positive. But my opinion remains skeptical. Wish he had three seasons to develop under Self.

    @icthawkfan316 - Good point on Lebron’s D. And to your point and @drgnslayr’s, the summer league assists simply mirrored what we saw at KU. A guy who seemed to work NOT to pass the ball. I doubt that will fly over the next few seasons. I’m sure some of those 28 year old men in the locker room might suggest that the youngster could set them up for a few scoring opportunities.

  • @icthawkfan316 and HEM

    Physically, Lebron is up here.

    Wigs is down here.

    Wigs has great, great springs. And he has the best first, second and third steps I have ever seen.

    But Lebron is just so much stronger there is no comparison. And Lebron is just as fast and quick. And he started out with a lion’s heart that Wigs so far appears to lack entirely.

    Lebron struggled his first couple of years in the L, but he was good enough to start and play all season, if I recall correctly. Lebron’s was the kind of struggling an already great player goes through entering the L at 18. Lebron truly had an NBA body to start with.

    Wigs seems about two years away from an NBA body that can punish anyone. What he has is some NBA grade moves, but you can bet every NBA team will have footage of Wigs getting smashed in the face and doing nothing. And they will have footage of him unwilling to finish. They will show that footage along side of some of his awesome 3 step drives and dunks. They will tell the latter day Ron Artests of the NBA world something like: “Take him out on his first step and there is nothing to worry about. He does not like pain. Let him get moving though, and the kid can be dangerous. Fuggedabout his trey. Sit on his right hand before you hurt him.”

    Right now, my greatest fear is that Wigs lands with a team with out enforcers; that could well signal an injury shortened season his rookie season.

    Whoever gets Wigs, if they don’t have an NBA superstar on the team (e.g., Lebron), then they will have to do what LB did for Reggie Miller in Indiana and Iverson in Phillie. He will have to put the ball in Wigs hands to score most plays, and go out and sign a bunch of prison bodies and send them to enforcer school.

    Otherwise, that rookie season…

    “Mistuh Kurtz, he dead.” –Joseph Conrad

  • @jaybate 1.0 On the “springs” thing, Wiggins absolutely has the quickest second jump of anyone I’ve seen – the second jump vs. KSU was amazing.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    The big assumption you are making is that Wiggins was playing guard for the Cavs; he was not.

    In the Summer League he played small forward ( the 3 position) and as such. his role is to keep the ball in motion and when available slash to the basket or take the open shot, play defense and get rebounds; assist are not the primary responsibility or a priority for a SF; that is the job of the guards and sometimes the big guys, when they can get the ball inside, collapse the defense and then kick it out to the open man on the outside.

    You can look up the definition of small forward and you will see that passing, if even present, is at the bottom of the list. Scoring, shooting, driving to the basket, rebounding, dribbling and defense are normally what is expected of a small forward.

    As far as:

    As to @JayHawkFanToo and your “what ifs”, – what if Wiggins was under the influence of the mob, and his contact told him that his boss was betting the under on the Wiggins assist line held by the local bartender running book?

    Right, coach Self told Andrew – “Andrew, when you drive, I want you to ignore your teammates. Focus solely on the rim. If you can pass and give your teammate an easy basket, you should ignore that.” Your premise (what if) is just silly.

    Now, that is actually silly, condescending and uncalled for. The primary purpose of the Summer League is to evaluate players individually and not as a team, since they will never play together again. How many people know who won the Summer League? Other than a handful of die-hard fans and scouts, probably not too many. I followed only the games/teams where former KU players participated, and this why I know that McLemore’s team beat Tarik’s team in the championship game. I am sure that the Cavs wanted to see is what Wiggins and Bennett could do, since realistically they are the only two players that will get minutes for the Cavs. So it is not unrealistic but actually likely they were told to primarily show their individual talent. The summer League is a place where teams can see prospect play, for the first time, with talent better than college but not quite NBA-like, under game conditions, and evaluate players outside the constrains of college team play. It is really that simple.

    BTW, you concentrated in the one area which is not his primary responsibility or purpose, and ignored the other areas that are, and in which he led the team.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Looking at Svee’s stats dont come close to doing him justice. His highlight’s are good but he is really fun to watch. I think he will fit in KU system well because he is terrific off the ball screen. He can drive it from the 3pt line alot like Wiggins without getting stripped lol.

  • @Statmachine oh I agree!!! Just figured HEM would have more to gripe about!

  • @HighEliteMajor Andrew Wiggins is still on your mind? I thought you went on vacation? I just got back from mine. I had a wonderful time. Picked up a few pounds, but I will work them off quickly. Are you looking forward to the upcoming season? I know I am. I think Oubre will be an assassin this upcoming season. Ellis and Traylor should be much improved. Mason and Frankamp will have more of a leadership role. Alexander should be ready by conference time, if not sooner. I am looking forward to another exciting year of Kansas Jayhawk Basketball. I look at these young men as I would my own children. I root for them in good times and bad. I enjoy every win and try to get over the losses quickly and move forward. During down times like this, I watch the ISU game when EJ dropped 39 on them and it still brings a smile to my face. There are so many positives to Kansas Jayhawk Basketball. I am looking forward to another great season. Hopefully another Conference Championship and another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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